Friday, June 3, 2011

Schools in sucka!!!!

That's right. I'm back. I'm starting brewing school in 10 days. I'm going to hopefully post my progress as I work toward my dream of brewing professionally in the very near future. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

June Update

Well the judging wasn't kind on the Irish Red. It was to style, no flaws, just didn't "blow up my skirt" as the comment read. Not sure how to take that. Anyway, I like it. The "winter weizen" also came out really well. Maybe a little under attenuated with a touch too much ginger, but still a great twist on a style. The American Browns (10 gallon) are in secondary dry hopping. Should be ready for my Dad in a few weeks. His favorite beer I make. Next up an APA for the September meeting.

OK now for the news. The Brewpub is Back. That's right. It's been 4 years but I've got the wheels a turning for a brewpub in the Roanoke area. I've met a very promising partner and Chef in Mike Bowling. I've got one solid investor without shopping around yet. We've got a couple vendors for brewing equipment and a couple possible locations. I will keep the blog updated with news at we proceed but watch for something new and exciting in Roanoke.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May Update

Had two good brews this month. I re-did the Irish Red ale for June's competition after the first one got an oversized dose of roasted barley and turned out to be a brown porter. The second time we got it right and am looking forward to a tasting in a week. The other is what I'm calling a "winter-weizen". My dunkleweizen recipe with mulling spices and ginger thrown into the boil. If this turns out well, look for it as a specialty entry at the Blackburg Brew Do event in October.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Today's Brewing Session

Quick note. The Ordinary Bitter and IPA on tap are pretty darn good. I digress

OK. Today I felt like a real brewer. 33 lbs. of grain. 70 qt mash tun at capacity. 15 gallon kettle at capacity. Why? All for a 10 gallon batch of Russian Imperial Stout for the clubs December 2010 competition.

I started by crushing the grain. Normally I fill about 3/4 of a bucket. Not this time...

After heating 12 gallons of water in the big kettle I mashed in my big 70 quart mash tun. Again, this was a test of capacity...

After sparging I had over 12 gallons of wort to boil. It took two of us, thanks Kevin, to lift the kettle onto the burner.

In the end, a potentially wonderful 1.090 beer, ready for fermentation.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


It's been a while since I wrote so I thought I'd throw a little something out there. Shortly after my last post we had our final Star City Brewers Guild meeting of the year where I was elected President of the club. I was very honored.

I'm still brewing too. I had a couple rough sessions. I did a vienna lager. Unfortunately it clouded up after secondary lagering but it's drinkable. I also did what should have been an Irish Red but I got distracted and added to much dark malt and ended up with a brown porter. Oh well. Still a good beer. My experimental beer, a belgian stout, turned out fairly well. It, along with a cream ale I did (and won third in the SCBG March competition with) have gone to the National Homebrewing Competition, so we'll see how that goes. Most recently I've done an ordinary bitter, which I then racked and used the yeast cake to ferment an IPA with. I'll save the yeast for the Russian Imperial Stout I plan to do in a couple weeks.

I think that's about it. I gotta get back to reading for my American Brewers Guild course.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

What's New!!!

Well let's see. Well let's start with the great news. I won second place at the Blacksburg Brew Do in the dark catagory with an Oatmeal Stout. The guy that beat me (with a Dopplebock) won best of show, so I was up there. It was a great day, my dad was down and the weather was great. I made the rounds and talked to all the brewers. Sounds like Jim will let me apprentice with him at Bull 'n Bones.

Brewed a couple good beers since then too. Did a Kolsch in October that came out pretty good. A really pale beer. Crystal clear, after a short lagering period. Slight grainy taste to it, like a warm Bud. But I guess they have a lot in common so maybe that's ok. I'm looking forward to a few reviews at the December Guild meeting. In November I brewed a Vienna Lager that is still lagering, but looks clear and should be kegged tomorrow.

That's the news that is news. Brew On!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bull & Bones Brewers Dinner

Hello all. Well what an evening. Kevin, Bailie and I went to Blacksburg this evening to participate in a Brewmaster's Dinner held at Blacksburg's only brewpub, Bull & Bones. The dinner consisted of a 7 course meal with each course paired with one of Bull & Bones very own craft beers. In addition we were accompanied by the brewer himself, Jim Strickland, as well as the head of catering and dinner designer Matt Vaughan. What follows are pics, descriptions and opinions of each course.

I have to begin with the initial set-up of the tables. In each section of the table there were two bowls with different grains, and a plate which contained some plug hops on top of pellets. All evening, each time the door opened and a breeze came in we'd get a whiff of hops. It was a wonderful experience.

Our first course was a salad with orange slices, onion and bacon bits with a blackberry (and if memory serves raspberry) and Grand Marnier dressing served with the Belgian Wit made with coriander & orange peel spices. The goal was to allow the beer to cleanse the pallet for each bite of a very flavorful salad. I particularly like the orange slices in the salad to match the orange peel in the Wit.

Our second course was probably the best food all night in a crab bisque. It was served with the All Night Light Pilsner. Again, this was to be a palate cleanser for the rich, creamy soup. I found the contrast of a bite of hot soup and a sip of cold beer very unexpected, not really thinking about it until it happened. I found the soup really brought out a grainy flavor to the pilsner (made with all malt, so it makes sense). I also found the creaminess accentuated the carbonation feel of the Pilsner. I must say again, the bisque was fantastic.

Our third course was my favorite overall. Perhaps it's the cheeseburger and fries personality opposed to steak and potato, but for this course we were served a bratwurst sandwich with cooked onions and peppers, and a little spicy mustard on the side. This was served on "pretzel bread", as best as I can describe it. The accompanying beer was their seasonal Oktoberfest. I really found the spicy mustard bringing out the strong malt profile of the Oktoberfest, and also a spiciness in the beer itself, perhaps from the hops or just a residual from the mustard. All -in-all I love a malty beer and bread combination like this. Very complimentary.

After the third course we were split into two groups and given a tour of the brewing facility. I must have been annoying since I talked so much, but I was there to learn. After the tour we were served our fourth course which consisted of a piece of freshly smoked salmon with a dill crouton and a dollop of sour cream. The suggested eating was to take half the salmon and half the sour cream and place it on the crouton and eat that before taking a sip. Again I found the "fatty" or creaminess of the fish and sour cream brought out the maltiness of the beer, which for this course was the Lunch Box Pale Ale, by the way. I also noticed an accentuation of the bitterness considering this was their pale ale and not the IPA.

Our fifth course was smoked chicken wings, done to your preferred level of heat, served with the IPA. The theory here is that you need a bold tasting beer to compete with a bold tasting food, in this case a spicy (hot) wing. What I've found in previous tastings is that while that is true, the beer will increase the heat effect of a buffalo style wing when you get up there in heat. In this case however, the wings were not terribly spicy and the two paired nicely. Although I think a slight decrease in malt flavor was noticed which took away from the beer a little.

The sixth course I felt was a little weak. The ribs were wonderful by themselves. They were tender and delicious. They were served with the Maroon Effect, which is basically a hoppy version of a standard brown ale. But because it had a lighter malt profile, and the ribs had a strong sweet sauce on them, the beer was really destroyed. I can say that because I had had a Maroon Effect just a little before as an opening pint and as my favorite beer offered there I know what it should have tasted like. The beer became a water version of it's former self in short. I would suggest leaving off the sauce next time, or pairing the beer with a hardier porter or perhaps the stout.

Last but not least we were treated to not one, but both deserts that had been offered. The first was a truffle, with raspberry drizzle, served with the stout. In addition we were given a second half glass of stout to which a small scoop of vanilla ice cream was added. A stout float in fact. Separately all components were delicious. The sweetness of the truffle really masked the malty sweetness of the stout and in fact accentuated the roasty character of the beer. In the case of the float, the ice cream was a welcomed addition to add a silky texture and creamy edge to the roastiness of the beer.
Overall a very well done presentation. It will be interesting to see if the beer lineup changes any to allow for other future pairing. A hearty porter for example would really go well with a smoked meat. A spicier gumbo would be a nice pairing with the IPA. The stout in a cream brulee. The possibilities are limitless.